The shooting of Denzel Dowell, an African-American resident of North Richmond, California, occurred on April 1, 1967. He was shot by an officer of the Martinez Sheriff's Department during a suspected burglary incident.
At about 5am on April 1, 1967 two sheriff's deputies responded to a telephone call that a burglary was in progress at a liquor store in Richmond, CA. Upon arrival at the location one deputy spotted two suspects and ordered them to halt. They fled and the deputy fired one shotgun blast. Denzel Dowell was struck and killed. The second suspect escaped. A hole was found broken through the cement wall of the liquor store and various burglary tools were found at the spot the two suspects were first seen. A coroner's inquest was held to investigate the shooting. It was ruled a justifiable homicide on April 14, 1967. The ruling was made unanimously by a jury of 10 white and two black citizens after 30 minutes of deliberation.
The event led to a street rally organized by the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. During the rally 15 armed members of the Black Panther Party held a street rally to protest against police brutality. This event helped to establish the Black Panthers in the national spotlight.